Congestion-free, the airport boasts two 3.6 km runways that literally beckon traffic seven-days-a-week, 24-hours a day, offering vastly untapped landing and take-off slots. State-of-the-art facilities provide dedicated and seemingly endless cargo capacity, passenger terminal facilities and on-airport cargo and passenger rail connections.
Add to this highly supportive local and regional governments and an upand- coming industrial base, and youÃ¢â‚¬™ve got a winner.
Even the airportÃ¢â‚¬™s ownership is unusual with the main shareholders split between two states Ã¢â‚¬“ Saxony and Saxony- Anhalt Ã¢â‚¬“ and three cities Ã¢â‚¬“ Leipzig, Halle and Delitzsch. The airportÃ¢â‚¬™s holding company Ã¢â‚¬“ Mitteldeutsche Airport Holding Ã¢â‚¬“ also has control over the nearby Dresden airport which focuses primarily on passenger traffic. Since the holding company was formed in2000, nearly 1.5 billion euro was spent upgrading Leipzig-Halle and another500 million euro for improvements atDresden.Ã¢â‚¬Â
While the airport had a keen ambition to become a key passenger airport alongside LeipzigÃ¢â‚¬™s bid for the 2012 Olympic Games (which ultimately went to the city of London), it emerged from the process newly modernised and even hungrier for business. Winning the affection of DHL and then Lufthansa Cargo only to be followed by the pairÃ¢â‚¬™s offspring, Aerologic, changed the equation substantially.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“DHL was really the big success for the airport itself, but also for the region. And with DHL there is Lufthansa Cargo which came over and now Aerologic which is another great success,Ã¢â‚¬Â Mitteldeutsche Flughafen AG CEO Markus Kopp, told Payload Asia.
There was stiff competition from a raft of European airports, he acknowledges, citing the likes of Paris-Vatry, Cologne and others, including Brussels itself, which ultimately lost the DHL hub.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Geographic-wise it really made sense for DHL to hub here, because being in eastern Europe the emerging countries are nearby and to have this really great infrastructure, not only the airport itself, but inter-modality, the railway connect to Frankfurt and also other opportunities to connect with other logistics regions is very good.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Ã¢â‚¬Å“There are many who would have liked to get this deal done and we are happy that DHL, Lufthansa and now Aerologic are here. It means something for us, for the development of this airport and the region,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said.
Importance of infrastructure
The decision to build a second runway was already planned long before DHL decided to uproot its European express hub to Leipzig-Halle, but Kopp acknowledges that it was one of the prerequisites to get DHL to move their hub over from Brussels. The 24-hour, seven days a week operation Ã¢â‚¬“ something that cargo carriers have a major struggle with at most major European hubs Ã¢â‚¬“ was also a key factor, he adds.
Infrastructure as a whole, is one of the really basic things that the whole region can profit from when it comes to employment, he says highlighting the importance of having an airport nearby when it comes to companies setting up their facilities like branch offices and production lines.
Without having an airprt infrastructure here, BMW, Porsche, Dell,Amazon and even the pharmaceutical and high-tech industry in DresdenwouldnÃ¢â‚¬™t have settled in this region,he argues. You need an internationalairport nearby. There is a big competitionbetween regions and airports are alwaysa very attractive argument for comingand investing in a region.
But the airport is more than just the DHL, Lufthansa powerhouse, with a halfdozen cargo airlines calling at Leipzig- Halle accounting for some 260 cargo flights per week to 53 destinations in 31 countries. Historical connections with Russia and the other Eastern European countries, not just from the Soviet era days of the GDR, but back through history when Leipzig was an important trading and transport hub, also continue to benefit the airport.
Boosting its cargo volumes are carriers like Aeroflot Cargo, Antonov Airlines, ATRAN Cargo Airlines and Volga-Dnepr. The passenger side also benefits from the huge flow of passenger traffic between Moscow and the region.
While arguably building from a miniscule base, cargo volumes at the end of the third quarter of 2009 were up 17.1 per cent year-on-year to more than 422,000 tonnes, with expectations for full-year figures to rise above last yearÃ¢â‚¬™s total volume of 442,406 tonnes.
Room to grow
But winning over the high profile customers and with a decent base of cargo carriers, not forgetting the nearly two dozen passenger airlines, is not enough for Kopp. Ã¢â‚¬Å“There is still a lot of capacity for companies that would like to use Leipzig-Halle both land-side, or air-side and I see it as one of the big advantages for the airport because there are not many airports worldwide Ã¢â‚¬“ we are already number three in Germany and one of the top airports in Europe Ã¢â‚¬“ that have space to expand.
Indeed, one only need to look west to Leipzig-HalleÃ¢â‚¬™s competitor, Frankfurt where night and slot restrictions are compounded by physical and political constraints on expansion and the strategic importance of operating out of Leipzig-Halle becomes clear.
In July a new logistics operator, DH Beteiligungen, set up in the airportÃ¢â‚¬™s Cargo Area South. With the establishment of a logistics security centre for safe handling, shipment and storage of high-value products and industrial goods, the Swis group is the second investor to locate in the cargo hub after the Garbe Group established its World Cargo Centre.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you think about strategic positioning you have to come to Leipzig-Halle because of the capacity and room for growth which you need as a company because logistics will remains one of the driving factors for the world economy. There will be an end to this crisis, the question is when and when it does IÃ¢â‚¬™m pretty sure those dynamic growth rates will return also.Ã¢â‚¬Â
The main focus for the airport will remain logistics, Kopp says, but with ample passenger capacity on the other side of the apron the airport will try to attract more airlines Ã¢â‚¬“ which also bring cargo belly capacity Ã¢â‚¬“ he says, citing the synergy between the two. Ã¢â‚¬Å“The passenger connections will support logistics companies and the logistics will support the passenger side. So we are quite happy with that. There are also plans to make Leipzig-Halle one of the key Berlin area passenger airports along with Berlin- SchÃƒÂ¶nefeld International Airport, located northeast of Leipzig.
We have good links to the European hubs like Frankfurt, Munich, Vienna, Paris from here but there is room for improvement, that is for sure. We want to get more airlines serving Leipzig- Halle and Dresden with more European capitals, but I donÃ¢â‚¬™t think we will have intercontinental connections sosoon.Ã¢â‚¬Â